a real world point of view
|The Hand of Fear|
|Novelised as:||Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear|
|Main setting:||Nunton Experimental Complex, England and Kastria, circa 1970s-1980s|
|Number of episodes:||4|
|Premiere broadcast:||2 October - 23 October 1976|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Masque of Mandragora||The Deadly Assassin|
The Hand of Fear was originally intended for the 1976 six-part slot that was taken by The Seeds of Doom. It was originally a very different tale in which the hand was an advance guard preparing the way for an alien army. However, the script was not ready, so it was delayed and rewritten.
When the TARDIS lands on Earth in a quarry, the Doctor and Sarah are caught in a mining explosion. Sarah is found clutching what appears to be a fossilised hand, buried in one-hundred-fifty-million-year-old strata. Analysis shows the hand to be silicon-based and inert, but when Sarah begins to act as if possessed, the Doctor suspects that it may still be alive...
Part 1 Edit
Placed into a capsule and shot into space, Eldrad awaits obliteration. The capsule is detonated prematurely, despite the risk of particle survival. Conditions are deteriorating rapidly on Kastria. The remaining Kastrians await their fate on the desolate planet.
The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive in the TARDIS in a modern-day quarry on Earth and are caught immediately in a quarrying explosion. The Doctor is slightly injured. Sarah is found unconscious in the rubble, clutching a fossilised hand. She is taken to a local hospital.
The hand is examined. Based on the strata of the rock in which it was found, it is one hundred fifty million years old. Pathologist Dr Carter dismisses these findings as ridiculous. Examining a sliver of the hand under an electron microscope, the Doctor observes a helix similar to DNA. The minuscule radiation of the microscope causes the sample to grow. The Doctor realises that this fossil might actually contain vestiges of life.
Sarah awakens in her hospital bed, holding a crystalline ring that slipped from the hand. The ring begins to pulse with energy. Sarah hears a voice in her head: "Eldrad must live". She steals the hand and flees the hospital, knocking out Carter with a flash from the ring. She heads for the nearest nuclear reactor, the Nunton Complex. With the aid of the ring, Sarah overpowers guards and workmen and enters the reactor room. She watches as the hand absorbs radiation, regenerates its missing finger and begins to move.
Part 2 Edit
The head of the complex, Professor Watson, stays bravely at his post when the reactor goes critical. He offers the Doctor aid and advice in trying to get to Sarah. Sarah sits serenely amidst the chaos and klaxons. The Doctor resolves to enter the chamber through a ventilation shaft, but is stopped by Dr Carter, now also under the hypnotic control of the ring. He tries to kill the Doctor but falls to his death.
The Doctor enters the chamber and finds there is no radiation whatsoever; the hand is absorbing the entire output of the reactor. Sarah is removed and the hand placed in a sealed cabinet. The Doctor breaks through Sarah's hypnosis.
The ring, however, is left behind in the chamber. It is found by a technician named Driscoll, who falls under its control. He takes the hand and walks into the main core. The reactor again nears critical.
Part 3 Edit
Watkins orders an RAF strike to destroy the hand and the reactor, but the missiles' impact cause an 'unexplosion'; that and the full power of the reactor are enough to complete the full regeneration of Eldrad. Crystalline, silicon-based and female, she explains she created the solar barriers that let Kastria thrive, but in an interstellar war the barriers were destroyed and she was disgraced and condemned. She persuades the Doctor to return her to Kastria so she can save her people; he agrees on the condition that they travel to Kastria in the present, a hundred fifty million years after she left.
The planet is barren and ruined, but her ring activates some instruments. Eldrad's presence is detected by automatic sensors that trigger traps set long ago by her rival, King Rokon, on the minuscule chance of Eldrad's return. As they enter an elevator to the subterranean levels, Eldrad is impaled by an acid-tipped spear.
Part 4 Edit
The Doctor and Sarah take the dying Eldrad to a regeneration chamber deep below the surface of Kastria. The regeneration chamber is rigged to destroy Eldrad, but a malfunction allows a full regeneration. The new form of Eldrad reveals he had based his earlier form on Sarah, the first human he encountered. Eldrad is now much taller and male. He boasts that he destroyed the solar barriers in a rivalry with King Rokon. They find Eldrad's ultimate goal, the Kastrian Race Bank, with which he intends to revive the dormant Kastrian people. The Bank, however, is empty. An image of Rokon appears, informing Eldrad that without the barriers, facing perpetual subterranean existence and a small possibility of his return, the Kastrian race elected to destroy themselves and the Race Bank. Rokon mockingly salutes Eldrad from the grave as "King of Nothing." A bitter Eldrad now decides to rule the Earth instead and demands that the Doctor return him. He refuses, stating that his obligation to Eldrad is now satisfied. Eldrad pursues the Doctor and Sarah to an abyss. Tripping over the Doctor's scarf, Eldrad falls to his apparent doom. Noting that Eldrad's fate is uncertain, as silicon-based lifeforms are difficult to kill, the Doctor drops Eldrad's ring into the abyss as well.
The Doctor and Sarah depart in the TARDIS, and the Doctor sets about making repairs. Sarah bemoans her life in the TARDIS - bouncing around the universe, fleeing from bug-eyed monsters and needing a bath. The Doctor is focused on his work, which infuriates her. She demands to be returned home and storms off to her room to pack. While she is gone, the Doctor receives a summons to return to Gallifrey. Sarah returns with her packed things and the Doctor informs her that he must return her to Earth, as he cannot take her with him to Gallifrey. Her bluff called, Sarah is taken aback, especially at missing the chance to see Gallifrey. The Doctor steers the TARDIS to bring her to Hill View Road, South Croydon - Sarah's home. She asks him not to forget her; he replies likewise. Once the TARDIS dematerialises, Sarah realises that it's not Hill View Road. In fact, it's not South Croydon at all. She remarks to a nearby dog, "He blew it." Whistling, Sarah walks off toward her new life...
- The Doctor - Tom Baker
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Dr. Carter - Rex Robinson
- Intern - Renu Setna
- Abbott - David Purcell
- Zazzka - Roy Pattison
- King Rokon - Roy Skelton
- Guard - Robin Hargrave
- Professor Watson - Glyn Houston
- Driscoll - Roy Boyd
- Miss Jackson - Frances Pidgeon
- Elgin - John Cannon
- Eldrad - Judith Paris
- Kastrian Eldrad - Stephen Thorne
- Writers - Bob Baker and Dave Martin
- Assistant Floor Manager - Terry Winders
- Costumes - Barbara Lane
- Designer - Christine Ruscoe
- Fight Arranger - Max Faulkner
- Film Cameraman - Max Samett
- Film Editor - Christopher Rowlands
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Make-Up - Judy Neame
- Producer - Philip Hinchcliffe
- Production Assistant - Marion McDougall
- Production Unit Manager - Chris D'Oyly-John
- Script Editor - Robert Holmes
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - Derek Slee
- Studio Sound - Brian Hiles
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - Colin Mapson
- Producer - Philip Hinchcliffe
- Director - Lennie Mayne
- Sarah mentions giving the Doctor's love to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Harry Sullivan when she leaves the TARDIS.
- The Doctor is called back to Gallifrey and says he has to leave Sarah behind. It is later revealed that aliens are not allowed there.
- Eldrad has heard of the Time Lords, saying that they are pledged to uphold the laws of time and to prevent alien aggression.
- Eldrad says he built barriers to keep out the winds and machines to replenish the soil and atmosphere, and devised a crystalline, silicon-based form for the Kastrians.
- The entire Kastrian race committed self-genocide on the chance that Eldrad might return.
- The extreme cold of Kastria might have affected the TARDIS' thermocouplings, which the Doctor tries to repair with an astro rectifier, a multi quantiscope and a Ganymede driver. He decides that he doesn't need the mergin nut or the Zeus plugs.
- The interior of the TARDIS exists in a state of temporal grace.
- A nuclear missile strike is performed on a nuclear reactor. However the resulting energy is absorbed by Eldrad.
Story notes Edit
- Working titles claimed for this story were The Hand of Death and The Hand of Time. However, the production notes on the DVD release state that there were no working titles for this story.
- In terms of 'seasons', Elisabeth Sladen was the longest serving companion with any Doctor, appearing for over three seasons and surpassing Katy Manning's record as Jo Grant. In terms of 'years', Janet Fielding holds the record for playing Tegan Jovanka for just under three years. Frazer Hines as companion Jamie McCrimmon holds the record for the longest serving companion in terms of the number of 'episodes' in which he appeared. These records do not take non-televised adventures into account, nor later "guest" reappearances.
- When Sladen expressed her intention to leave the series, Sarah was originally supposed to be killed off in a pseudo-historical story involving aliens and the Foreign Legion. However Douglas Camfield, who was supposed to write the scripts, was unable to do so. This was much to Sladen's relief, as she did not want Sarah to be killed or married off. Sladen also asked that Sarah's departure not be the main focus of the story, as she felt the program was about the Doctor, not the companion.
- The nuclear power station was originally supposed to be the Nuton Power Complex of The Claws of Axos but was renamed the Nunton Experimental Complex instead. The real-life location was the Oldbury Nuclear Power Station in Gloucestershire.
- In the original script, Miss Jackson was a nameless man. Director Lennie Mayne built up the part, changed the gender and cast his wife, Frances Pidgeon.
- Eldrad's home was originally supposed to be the black hole of Omega 4.6. When Robert Holmes pointed out to Bob Baker and Dave Martin that the name Omega had already appeared in Doctor Who (in The Three Doctors; ironically this story was also written by Baker and Martin), they changed the name to Kastria.
- The original script for the story featured an ageing Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, who had been moved from UNIT to the Extraterrestrial Xenological Intelligence Taskforce to study UFO activities. He was to be killed when he steered his spaceship into an Omegan kamikaze ship to prevent that ship from crashing into Earth. This plan did not go through as Nicholas Courtney was unavailable for filming. The original script also featured Harry Sullivan.
- Baker and Martin intentionally did not write Sarah's departure scene. The script for that scene was rewritten by Sladen and Tom Baker from Robert Holmes's original version.
- In the final scene, Sarah Jane whistles the tune, "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow". Since Elisabeth Sladen was unable to whistle, director Lennie Mayne provided the whistling while she mimed to it.
- Dr Carter points out that Sarah's clothes make her look "just like Andy Pandy". Andy Pandy was a character from a 1950s British children's TV puppet show of the same name, who also wore a striped romper suit. (Andy Pandy's stripes were blue and white rather than red and white, but since the original Andy Pandy series was broadcast in black and white, few people would have known the colour of his stripes.)
- Elisabeth Sladen reprised the role of Sarah Jane Smith in K9 and Company, and later appeared in the twentieth anniversary special The Five Doctors and the thirtieth anniversary charity special Dimensions in Time. While Sladen pulled back on her acting career after the birth of her daughter Sadie in 1985, she continued to appear as Sarah in various Doctor Who-related spin-off media, including two radio dramas with Jon Pertwee, (AUDIO: The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space) and a series of audio dramas from Big Finish Productions. (AUDIO: Sarah Jane Smith (audio series)) She returned to television in the Tenth Doctor episode TV: School Reunion (in which Sarah's departure point was revealed to be Aberdeen rather than Croydon) and her own TV spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. She later also returned to Doctor Who for the story The Stolen Earth/Journey's End and had a cameo in The End of Time.
- The fly that can be seen walking across Glyn Houston's brow in one scene was swallowed by Elisabeth Sladen in an outtake.
- This serial was repeated in May 2011 on BBC Four across two days as a tribute to Elisabeth Sladen after her death from cancer a month previously.
- Elisabeth Sladen is credited as 'Sarah Jane' in Radio Times.
- Frances Pidgeon (Miss Driscoll) and Roy Boyd (Driscoll) are uncredited on-screen for Part Three, but are credited in Radio Times.
- Part 1 - 10.5 million viewers
- Part 2 - 10.2 million viewers
- Part 3 - 11.1 million viewers
- Part 4 - 12 million viewers
- A real quarry explosion was filmed for the episode. Unfortunately the crew badly underestimated the power of the explosion, and a rumour persisted for many years that a camera was totally destroyed in the blast. In the DVD commentary it is made clear that this is just a fan myth. The camera was placed in a blast-proof box, and although it was buried in the explosion, it was undamaged.
- This episode establishes the rule that only Time Lords and Gallifreyans are allowed on Gallifrey. The Doctor never said that, he might have decided he couldn't take Sarah Jane there because he felt she wouldn't be safe there. He's taken other companions, all of whom neither Time Lord nor Gallifreyan there and there wasn't any mention of this rule.
Filming locations Edit
- Cromhall Quarry, Cromhall, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire (Quarry where the TARDIS arrives at the start of the story)
- Oldbury Nuclear Power Station, Oldbury Naite, Thornbury, Gloucestershire (Location of the 'Nunton Experimental Complex')
- Stokefield Close, Thornbury, Gloucestershire (Where Sarah is dropped off by the Doctor)
- Rickmansworth Road (A412), Croxley Green, Hertfordshire (This was reused stock footage of an ambulance)
Production errors Edit
- When Eldrad is ranting and raving following King Rokon's message, a camera can be seen in the dark doorway behind Sarah.
- When Eldrad is telling the Doctor about the race banks, the shadow of a boom mike moves over the wall behind Sarah (and its reflection can be seen in the wall to her left).
- When the Doctor and Sarah are setting the trap for Eldrad, the Doctor bumps a large rock to his left, causing it to wobble noticeably.
- Sarah Jane reappears in TV: A Girl's Best Friend, TV: The Five Doctors, PROSE: Interference - Book One / Interference - Book Two, AUDIO: Sarah Jane Smith (audio series), PROSE: Bullet Time, TV: School Reunion, TV: The Stolen Earth/Journey's End, and TV: The End of Time, and she got her own show.
- The Doctor's hypnosis of Sarah Jane Smith by putting his hands on the sides of her head is similar to what he does in TV: Fear Her and The Shakespeare Code. However, unlike these two stories, in The Hand of Fear, he does not lay Sarah down after commencing the hypnosis, and in fact, Sarah walks around and makes facial expressions for part of the conversation.
- It is revealed in TV: School Reunion that Sarah was actually left in Aberdeen.
- Sarah Jane's and the Doctor's parting words were admonishments to the other not to forget them. K9 Mark III revealed that he was a gift from the Doctor, Sarah Jane remarks, "Oh, Doctor, you didn't forget." (TV: A Girl's Best Friend) Their conversation was repeated nearly verbatim when she and the Tenth Doctor parted after her aborted wedding. (TV: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith)
- Sarah Jane stood in the street sadly watching the Doctor's TARDIS disappear from her life, and made a remark toward a dog. Her parting from the the Tenth Doctor thirty years later was nearly identical. (TV: School Reunion)
- Zeus plugs are mentioned in TV: The Girl in the Fireplace and Time Crash.
- The Doctor's quip that Gallifrey "perhaps" is in Ireland is repeated in TV: The Invisible Enemy and TV: Human Nature.
- The summons to Gallifrey which the Doctor received is revealed in TV: The Deadly Assassin to have been sent by the Master.
- Sarah expresses a desire to see Gallifrey at the end of the serial. Her wish will be granted (after a fashion) in TV: The Five Doctors.
Home video and audio releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
This story was released as Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear.
- Commentary by Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Judith Paris, Bob Baker and Philip Hinchcliffe.
- Changing Time - A 50-minute documentary, looking at the making of the story and the special relationship between the Doctor and Sarah.
- Swap Shop - Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen are interviewed by Noel Edmonds and callers on the Saturday morning children's show.
- Continuities - Rare surviving continuity announcements relating to the story.
- Photo Gallery
- Doctor Who annual 1977 (PDF DVD-ROM)
- Radio Times billings (PDF DVD-ROM)
- Production Information Subtitles
- Easter Egg - Clip of an interview with Elisabeth Sladen. To access this hidden feature, press left twice at 'Play All' on the main menu.
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
VHS Releases Edit
This story was released on VHS in February 1996. It was the final video tape to include the diamond logo on the cover artwork in the United Kingdom and the US, and was deleted along with much of the rest of the Doctor Who video range only a few weeks after its initial release, making the original tape something of a collectors' item.
- The Hand of Fear at the BBC's official site
- The Hand of Fear at BroaDWcast
- Detailed synopsis of The Hand of Fear at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Hand of Fear at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Hand of Fear at The Locations Guide